Rediscovering the Spice of Life

Recently a client I’ve worked with for a long time has rehired an ex employee. While that’s not really a common place activity, it does happen from time to time, and I certainly understand why the client would rehire that individual based on the current employees they have and what that employee used to do for them. As I was chatting briefly with this employee this past week, they brought up some of the things that we had talked about in the past, things that most of the current employees don’t know about. It took me a minute to adjust to talking about those things with them and I didn’t feel totally comfortable with the conversation. Maybe this is something that you can identify with from experiences you’ve had when you’ve reconnected with someone you haven’t seen in several years.

As I was doing some work today my mind meandered through that conversation and those feelings again. I got to thinking about the conversation and thinking back to those conversations years ago and thinking back to the person I was then and the person I am now. They were right, I have grown and changed in the passing years, but it really hadn’t hit me how much until we were having that conversation.

As I sit here writing I’m realizing of how many of the things I do have now that I was hoping for then, even if they don’t look quite like I was thinking they would. This is one of the big reasons why it’s important to stop and reflect sometimes. If this conversation hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be taking this trip down memory lane. I’ve talked about the importance of perspective before, and here I’m reminded of it again. Taking time for looking at life with a different perspective, to review what’s gone on in the past, to really take a hard look at the present, all of these are things that not only can help us get clarity on what the future may hold or where we want our lives to go, it can also give us a big sense of accomplishment and even relief that we’re actually making progress with our lives.

As we start this new month I encourage you to sit down and take a trip back in time and do a little reflecting. Consider how far you’ve actually come. Unbury the dreams that you used to have. Discover how far you’ve come. Make adjustments to head in the direction you want to go. Celebrate your life, your path and the people you’ve got traveling this journey with you. Stop for a moment and let the fog clear from around you so that you can see past, present and future clearly. And then make a decision about how you’re going to move into the next stage of this journey called life.

Live Your Life Your Way

One of the questions that is asked from time to time is along the lines of “do we really need another blogger in the world?” Of course that same question could be easily asked about countless things from authors to web designers to chefs to baseball players. I get it, I mean there are tons of people who share similar things or seem to do the same thing.

But with the incredible loss of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade last week I got to thinking about this question again, especially in response to some of the things people posted about Anthony Bourdain following his death. We could watch any of a dozen or so news channels on TV, but each of us has our own preference about which we watch as well as which news site we typically visit on the internet. They often share the same exact news (a baseball score isn’t going to change depending on who you hear it from), yet we think they share the news better or we have some other affinity with them.

So I say go for it. Share your story, write your blog, investigate the world from your perspective, listen to others, get to know the world around you and you live in, and do your part to take care of it and all who share it. No one can ever tell your story like you can, no one can make the difference in the world that you can. We all have a role to play in this world, what statement will you make with the way you live your life?

A St. Patrick’s Day Legacy

Today is St. Patrick’s Day! I’m excited as always, it’s one of my favorite holidays each year. Over the last day or so I’ve been checking out some Irish companies and looking at products made in Ireland and was struck by the care, consideration and effort that’s put into each product. No, no company is perfect, but when you think about truly Irish products and companies many of them have stood the test of time and consistently offer fantastic products. I’m not one to spend tons of money on things like jewelry or clothing, but I’m willing to spend those extra dollars to get such a quality product and support the families who are behind them.

No, this post isn’t really about running a business or offering a quality product, it’s about the quality and character of the people behind them. As parents and those in charge of the next generation we have a choice in what we want to teach the next generation, and hopefully what they’ll learn from us. Do we want to teach them to value the world, put their best foot forward, take pride in their work, leave a legacy that can be appreciated for a long time, and make a positive impact on the world? I know that’s what I want to teach the next generation and encourage them to value life and their talents.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with buying a sweater or piece of jewelry from your local big box store, I’ve got some of them that I absolutely enjoy very much and were on low clearance prices even (prices that couldn’t get me anywhere near something from Ireland). So there’s nothing wrong with finding shortcuts and doing a quick job of something (as long as it gets the job done), but there’s value to be found in being a person who does more than just meets the status quo.

No one else can be who you are, no one else can be who your kids are or will grow up to be, no one else can be the neighborhood kids or who they will grow up to be, each and every one of us are unique and have the ability to bring something awesome to the table. In the case of the many families in Ireland who craft gorgeous products those families are teaching their next generations about leaving a legacy, honoring your heritage and sharing who they are with the world. What are you teaching your kids?

Leadership Lessons from Dr Martin Luther King Jr

This coming Monday in the US we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was born in January of 1929 and killed in 1968 while leading the Civil Rights Movements. Dr. King is someone that we look up to from a personal perspective, but I think we can learn a lot about him from a business perspective as well, which is what we’re going to talk about today.

Start somewhere: Dr. King didn’t start his campaign in front of the Lincoln Memorial, no, he began as a baptist pastor. There are many pastors and spiritual leaders who have done great things for their community, as well as for the world, and anyone, anywhere can be a leader. There’s no rule that says you have to have front page coverage or thousands (or millions) of followers to make a difference, you do however have to start with what you’ve got, be faithful with it and work to grow from there.

Communication: A core part of what Dr. King did and was all about was communication, as you probably know, he’s most famous for his “I Have a Dream” speech! There’s no way that the Civil Rights Movement could have achieved the reach it did or made as big of a difference for racial equality as it did without the communication that was central to the movement, both on stage and between all the people and groups involved. The Civil Rights Movement is also noteworthy because of the non-violent focus, instead choosing to use words and peaceful actions to make a statement.

Perfection is not required: I’ll be the first to tell you that I greatly admire Dr. King and am proud that he was an American. But if you take a look at his history, as well as all the details of the Civil Rights Movement, he’s not perfect, and as with any situation that brings lots of people in contact and conflict with each other you’ll find evidence of things that could have been done better or at least done with a bit more care given to how it was played out. The thing is these issues, mistakes and failures didn’t ruin or stop Dr. King or the Civil Rights Movement, they’re accepted as an unfortunate part of the path to victory.

Work hard: With this new year you’ve got the opportunity to build on what you’ve been building, make changes, learn to communicate better, and move on from previous mistakes or failures. The question you have to answer is if you’re ready and willing to do the work that’s required to make a difference. Dr. King was, he was in the trenches marching, speaking, and going to jail for his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, he didn’t leave it to “other people,” but he did understand the value of having people on his team, and those people sharing in the work.

Have a Dream: While the “I Have a Dream” speech was meant to motivate people with regards to issues of race and equality, it’s an important reminder that behind what we’re doing there really has to be vision, passion and purpose. People identify with, understand, connect to and relate to stories, and vision, passion and/or purpose gives people something to feel, experience and envision.  Dr. King’s dream speech brought to life for people what could be possible if the Civil Rights Movement was really a success.

I’m thankful Dr. King was the man he was, and I’m thankful for the way he has inspired so many people, including other leaders. Are you following in the leadership shoes of Dr. King, and if so what have you learned from his life and leadership?

Dream A New Dream

Yes, we’re at the end of a year and beginning of a new year.  I think it’s one of the best decisions that was made many, many years ago to have a yearly calendar because it gives people a fresh start.  It helps us to organize and straighten out our lives and choose to make positive changes in our lives.  It’s also a reminder to each of us to reflect on what the past year of our lives has brought and what we’ve learned and helps us focus on what we need to improve.  If we lived our lives as one day after another we might live more in the present moment but we would miss out on the benefits of having a yearly schedule if you will to follow.

It’s funny because we really do well when we have a semi structured life.  We can’t live lives that are scheduled every minute of every day but with some structure in our lives we’re able to work jobs, spend time with our families and learn how to make each moment count.

But with this new year, and every new year, I’m reminded anew of the blessing that it brings us to be able to make changes in our lives and to dream a new dream.  It’s never too late to start fresh or make changes in your life.  Until, of course the day comes that you’ve run out of time and you’ve used up all your moments.  With this new year I want to encourage you to use your moments to the fullest.  It’s not too late for you to make your dreams come true, or to have new dreams that actually excite you.

I know that dreams get tired, I know that people get tired. Which is why it’s important to evaluate each year where you’ve been and where you’re going.  The awesome thing is you only have to set the goals you want to set.  Set goals for each day, set goals for each month, set goals for this year.  Make it manageable so that your dreams can become a reality.  This year, I challenge you to make this your year.  In addition to whatever words or themes you’re choosing for this year, choose to make this year the year that you become and show yourself to the world.  Take the wheel and make this new year your year.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C. S. Lewis

The Future of Dreams

Today is the day we recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the dreams that he had and work that he did to better our world for all people. He’s known for many things including the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, for being a great speaker and for being a father, but the one that people remember the most is his famous “I have a dream” speech. For people around the world it resonates because at sometime in our lives we have had dreams. Maybe you’re reading this thinking about the entrepreneurial dream you have, or the dream about changing the face of healthcare or just a dream to see your kids grow up different/better than you. I haven’t met too many people with dreams that aren’t worthy of the time and effort it takes to pursue them, but yet too many people don’t even have the courage to stand up and share their dream.

One of the reasons Dr King was so successful and got so far (and had the enemies that he did) was because he 110% believed in his dream, and he also had others who believed in it too. These two things are very key factors for a dream becoming more than just thoughts or ideas. If you don’t believe in your dream you’re done.  If you don’t believe in your dream fully and your dream is bigger than you, you can’t get anyone on board with your dream your dream will remain only a dream.

One of the reasons I have hope for our world today is because there are dreamers who are not only passionate about their dream but they’ve got a dream that is worth the interest and involvement of others too. I am a big believer in donating time and/or money to worthy charities (something I do every month), and I always try to do a good deed or share a kind word each day.

The only way the world will get from where we are to where we could be is if we’re willing to dream dreams and then make those dreams a reality. Dreaming of lots of money is not really a dream, it’s those who dream about what the money can do that make a difference. If you don’t have a dream you need one!  Once you’ve got that dream do something each day to make it a reality. What’s your dream?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt